Building Solidarity

Authors: Zoe Hollomon, Green For All Fellow Candidate I recently returned to Buffalo after presenting at the 2011 Good Jobs Green Jobs Conference along with other Green for All Fellows. Hosted by the Blue Green Alliance, the conference brought together representatives from labor, environmental organizations and local community non-profits to discuss a more sustainable future and green jobs. It was inspiring to see the combination of attendees, speakers and workshop topics all taking place at one event. For our panel, “Faces of the New Green: Models in Green Jobs Development Among Low-Income Communities & Communities of Color,” each of us described our work, our different projects and perspectives, keys to our progress, challenges and finally we shared critical questions with our audience about how to accomplish our shared goal - create a future that we are proud to pass on to future generations. As a youth development and food justice professional, I am proud to say that our concerns and focus on food security and youth employment were echoed by people from communities in DC, NYC, Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit, and beyond. In our breakout groups it was uplifting to hear people's praises in support of our work at Massachusetts Avenue Project (MAP) and feel the solidarity of sharing similar struggles. I was able to make connections with other groups and individuals and get to know better the work of my Green for All Fellows. At one workshop, I met several youth leaders from Manhattan Comprehensive Day and Night School, a unique school where youth can obtain a high school diploma in two years and get green job training and skills for their future. I felt an immediate connection with the teens through their presentations and hearing their stories. It reminded me of our Growing Green program and we made promises to get in touch and see if we could build a bridge between our two organizations. Getting closer to some of my Green for All Fellows and hearing about some of their best practices and challenges helped build our existing relationships and opened some new possibilities to work together. What I parted with from this experience was a sense of alignment with thousands of others in the movement, working for better choices for our communities. I feel proud to represent my community of Buffalo, our youth and our work at Growing Green. My fellowship with Green for All has been a wonderful opportunity to see how diverse our movement is and what can happen when diversity is cultivated. I'm recharged and glad to be back home.

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